Ticket To Ride - In Depth Review
This review is for Ticket to Ride, the game by Alan R. Moon. This review is not for the Beatles song.
- Easy to learn
- High strategic potential
- Can play over Zoom
- Hidden leader
- All or nothing destination tickets
- Tiny cards
Ticket to Ride is an exceptional game. It is considered a gateway game because it has few rules and a simple framework. The game's strategic depth has earned it a place on so many bookshelves. Ticket to Ride is a solid pick when we have a game night scheduled but have not picked a game. Setup takes just a few minutes. All the components have a place in the box. There is no need to make or buy an insert. My only gripe is that the cards are tiny. They make me feel like a giant.
I love the theme of this game. Trains have universal appeal. My husband is attracted to the air of nostalgia of train travel. I am attracted to epic railroad imperialism on a table top scale. Train themed trash talk is the best type of trash talk. "I will destroy you, Vanderbilt. You return home as a stowaway, like the hobo you are." The train theme attracts each of us for different reasons but brings my family together.
The game is simple to learn; gamers at all skill levels can easily grasp the concepts. Each turn you can either draw cards (or take them from the community pool), draw destination tickets, or place trains. Trains are placed by paying the number of colored cards on the route. Placing trains is the only way to get points. On the surface, the game is quite simple. Lay trains, get points.
Each player can only perform one action per turn. This makes every move count, and it is a tough choice between blocking someone else, gathering the cards needed for a big route, or picking more destination tickets.
Destination tickets have the most strategic value. Each player draws three destination tickets at the beginning of the game. You have to keep two, but you can refuse the other. These destination tickets are kept secret from the other players. The destination cards are the most interesting part of the game. If you complete the route specified on the cards, you get the bonus number of points at the end of the game. If you fail to complete the route, you subtract that number of points. You can draw more destination tickets over the course of the game (in later rounds, you only have to keep one). Wait too long and you will not have the time or resources to construct the new route.If RNG is with you, you will draw destination tickets that are close to your current routes. (Board's Edge Games note: RNG is geek for "luck"). You are never 100% sure which routes other players are going after until the big reveal at the end. This means you never really know who is winning at any given time.
The hidden leader mechanic is simultaneously interesting and infuriating. Hidden leader helps prevent scenarios where a player knows she is losing and spends most of her energy blocking the leader’s routes. It is infuriating when the end of the game occurs and you realize you were not doing nearly as well as you thought, and that your time would have been better spent blocking the (now identified) leader’s routes. Not quite knowing how well you are doing adds a lot of tension and adds to the feeling that every action counts.
What About Remote Play?
I play this over Zoom with four players in two households. We each have a physical copy of the game. We divide the destination tickets prior to the game start so no two players draw the same tickets. Then we each update the board after trains are placed. Housekeeping between turns does not take too long. One side has the master deck and draws replacement community pool cards. The other side maintains a deck to draw wild cards and update the pool based on the master.
Remote play score: 3 out of 4
What our remote score means: Works well over Zoom or your remote video conferencing system of choice. Additional set-up time required to play remotely (here, dividing up destination tickets into unique draw stacks for each household) but once you get going, very little work is required to keep boards in sync.